Celebrating black history

Published 5:47 pm Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Still I rise” was the inspirational poem, by Maya Angelou, that Barbara McGrew used to open the Pleasant Valley Missionary Baptist Church Youth Department’s annual Black History program, celebrating Black History Month.

The evening’s program featured Hart’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir, Pleasant Valley Missionary Baptist Church Youth Choir, and a special performance by the Mississippi Valley State University’s Gospel Choir.

No one can adequately prepare you for the experience for such as magnanimous choir as Mississippi Valley State University’s Gospel Choir. Johnny Mae Roberts, who introduced the group, came close. “Students of this caliber can make the hair stand on top of your head,” said Roberts.

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The Mississippi Valley State University Gospel Choir, under the direction of Dr. Orlando Moss, has made a great name for itself, traveling and competing throughout the world. The choir has been to Europe and sang in the Bahamas for the Governor General.

It is clear Dr. Moss is a strong leader, and is the main inspiration for the group’s acclaim. He is a dynamic leader, with a wealth of musical knowledge.

The group opened their performance with a couple of spirituals, that played with tempos, staccato rhythms, and sotto voce, before blowing the roof off the church in the second half with their big, glorious gospel numbers, bringing the crowd to their feet.

After completing their first selection, “My God is a Rock”, Dr. Moss said, “Now you know why we don’t mind saying we are the best in the state.”

McGrew introduced Hart’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Mass Choir by saying, “We will now celebrate Hart’s chapel style, Pearl River County style.” Hart’s chapel delivered soulful and passionate gospel to the evening, gospel meant to be enjoyed on your feet.

Black history month has been celebrated every February since 1976. Amanda Richard of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church reiterated to the guests that “music is a very important part of African history.”

The youth department of the church should be commended for an excellent job of reminding the congregation of our rich African American heritage and why we should pay attention to our history.